Municipal Wetlands Data Strategy

 

Municipal Wetlands Data Strategy

Using wetlands data in municipal planning and wetland conservation

The Issue / Idea

Wetlands data is either unavailable or inappropriate to meet municipalities needs for planning and wetland conservation.

The Project

A problem faced by many (all?) municipalities in the Bow River Basin – urban or rural – is that wetlands data is either unavailable or inappropriate to meet their needs for municipal planning and wetland conservation.

The Miistakis Institute convened a workshop for municipal personnel in the Bow River Basin to collectively better understand what the wetlands data challenges are, and to collaboratively plot a course forward to address these needs.

The day involved presentations on the current situation, working sessions to clarify municipal needs, and ended with an effort to frame a strategy for securing municipally-relevant wetlands data.

The project was completed with the creation of a strategy for securing accessible, usable, current, consistent wetlands data.


Bow Basin Municipal Wetland Datasets: A strategy for securing accessible, usable, current, consistent wetlands data

Additional Wetlands Data Resources


Wetlands Datasets in the Bow River Basin: A Preliminary Catalogue of Wetlands Datasets Available to Municipalities
Wetlands Data Needs and Issues: A survey of Municipalities in the Bow River Basin

 

Municipal Wetlands Data / Survey Results – Presentation Slide Deck
Policy, Potential, Practice and Power: How Municipalities Fit into the Wetland Management Puzzle – Presentation Slide Deck

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

This research was completed in

June 2020

Supporters

Alberta Innovates – Water Innovation Program

Ecological Connectivity – Modelling, Planning and Municipalities

 

Ecological Connectivity – Modelling, Planning and Municipalities

Three guides to help to clear some of the cloudiness around ecological connectivity and municipal planning

The Issue / Idea

Municipalities face challenges in finding practical guidance for integrating ecological connectivity into the structures and practical realities of municipal planning.

The Project

Every municipal planning department in the Calgary region has faced the challenge of addressing ecological connectivity.

It can start from a variety of directions – open house feedback, a councilor request, a regional planning requirement, etc. It can carry many labels: wildlife corridors, linkage zones, structural and functional connectivity. However, two things are common to all of these cases. First, it is always based on the notion that species need to move to stay healthy and viable. Second, what a municipal planner can or should do about this is not clear.

As part of the Calgary Regional Partnership’s Ecological Conservation and Protection Initiative, Miistakis created three guides to help to clear some of the cloudiness around ecological connectivity and municipal planning.

As well as supporting municipal planners, these guides are intended to help those working with planners or who are affected by municipal plans. Understanding the way ecological connectivity is viewed through the lens of municipal planning will help others (including municipal councilors, wildlife biologists, conservation groups, land developers and builders) better understand the decisions and options that emerge in the planning realm.

Planning to Connect: A guide to provide clarity on what ecological connectivity might mean for a municipality, which plans and policies to target, and how. It also includes a searchable catalogue of example clauses from other jurisdictions and a document library of sample plans, reports, strategies, and cases from which to learn

Pulling the Levers: A Guide to Modelling and Mapping Ecological Connectivity outlines how the science can be used to give municipalities map-based illustrations of ecological connectivity.

Connecting the Dots: A Guide to Using Ecological Connectivity Modeling in Municipal Planning outlines how planners can acquire and use that information to address planning questions, working in partnership with their GIS staff or consultants.


Planning to Connect: A Guide to Incorporating Ecological Connectivity into Municipal Planning

Policy Clause Catalogue

Pulling the Levers: A Guide to Modelling and Mapping Ecological Connectivity

Connecting the Dots: A Guide to Using Ecological Connectivity Modeling in Municipal Planning

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2019

Supporters

Woodcock Foundation

Distributed GIS for Calgary Region Municipalities

 

Distributed GIS for Calgary Region Municipalities

Providing support for the Calgary Regional Partnerships’ Regional Metadata Guidelines

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities in the Calgary Region effectively share and use GIS data?

The Project

In 2009, the Miistakis Institute began supporting the Calgary Regional Partnerships’ development of Regional Metadata Guidelines for GIS data management (Regional GIS or RGIS) to support planning within the Calgary region. The project’s objectives were to:

    • Create mechanism for cataloguing, exchanging spatial data
    • Support and facilitate other CRP initiatives
    • Promote standards & best practices among CRP GIS Community

Throughout the project, Miistakis was involved in all technical meetings, developed a Metadata Best Practices Guide and developed a variety of other technical tools and templates that allow for data sharing between municipalities.


Metadata Best Practices Guide

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2011

Supporters

Calgary Regional Partnership

Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST)

 

Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST)

A project to help municipalities identify where renewable energy (and other land uses) is most suitable in consideration of high valued agricultural, ecological, and cultural lands

The Issue / Idea

How do municipalities balance development considerations with high value agricultural, ecological, and cultural lands?

The Project

When municipal governments consider industrial scale solar or wind energy development, it immediately becomes clear that not everywhere is suitable for those activities, and not everywhere is unsuitable. For some areas it is a clear-cut ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but most areas sit somewhere on a continuum between those two extremes.

The Miistakis Institute and the Oldman River Regional Services Commission (ORRSC) developed the Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST) to assist the Municipal District of Pincher Creek in identifying where renewable energy development is most suitable in consideration of high valued agricultural, ecological and cultural lands.

The MLUST process took six months to complete, engaged municipal stakeholders, made use of existing spatial datasets, and produced a series of map products to inform planning at the municipal scale.

MLUST engaged the municipal council and staff to identify features they valued on the landscape. Each feature was scored by stakeholders to determine each features conflict with wind and solar energy development. The most suitable areas for renewable energy development coincided with low probable conflict rating of other land uses. Renewable energy development suitability areas were also informed by removing No-Go Areas based on provincial, municipal and organizational regulations and Non-Development Areas based on existing settlement and Infrastructure.

The MLUST process can be adapted to determine the most suitable lands for any type of land use, not just renewable energy.

Prior to the development of the MLUST process, a similar process was used with Wheatland County and the County of Newell called the Least Conflict Lands. This process was later refined to create the MLUST process.


Executive Summary: Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST) for Municipal District of Pincher Creek

Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST) for Municipal District of Pincher Creek

Executive Summary: Least Conflict Lands: Municipal Decision Support Tool for Siting Renewable Energy Development

Least Conflict Lands: Municipal Decision Support Tool for Siting Renewable Energy Development

Organization

This project was undertaken by

Miistakis Institute

Oldman River Regional Services Commission

M.D. of Pincher Creek

Wheatland County

County of Newell

Status

Least Conflict Lands Completed in

2018

MLUST Completed in

2020

Supporters

Energy Efficiency Alberta

Rural Municipalities of Alberta

The INTACT Foundation

Energy Efficiency Alberta’s Community Energy Capacity Building Program

Wheatland County

County of Newell

Modelling Developable Lands in a Municipality

 

Modelling Developable Lands in a Municipality

A Planning tool to inform discussions around future development proposals and conservation planning facing municipalities today

The Issue / Idea

Municipalities are faced with development pressure on a continuous basis. How do they balance development considerations with conservation priorities?

The Project

The Developable Lands Planning tool was created to inform discussion around future development proposals and conservation planning facing the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. The tool overlays a series of user-selected map layers, then models them against ‘development considerations’ and ‘conservation priorities.’ Adjustments were done in real time in a multi-stakeholder workshop environment to help participants understand the consequences of various development strategies.


Developable Lands Planning One Pager

Developable Lands Mapping Tool Final Report

Organization

This project was undertaken by

Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2006

Supporters

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Rural Community Economic Development Program through the Crowsnest Pass Business Development Corporation and the Western Economic Partnership Agreement

Call of the Wetland

 

Call of the Wetland

A citizen science amphibian monitoring project to understand the health of Calgary’s wetlands and to engage Calgarians in urban wildlife and wetland awareness

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities learn about their urban wetlands’ health while engaging residents in wetland awareness?

The Project

To better understand the health of Calgary’s wetlands, Miistakis Institute, Enbridge, Parks Foundation Calgary, Alberta Conservation Association and the Calgary Zoo developed “Call of the Wetland”, a citizen science program that enabled the public to monitor amphibians as an important indicator of wetland health. There were 6 amphibian species that have historically been found in Calgary, however, prior to Call of the Wetland, it was unknown which still persist in our urban environment.

Call of the Wetland engaged Calgarians in understanding the health of wetlands through monitoring of amphibians and enabling a connection to nature in the City. The long term outcome of Call of the Wetland is to build off of the knowledge gained on amphibian presence to understand the health of wetlands within the City of Calgary, as well as to continue to foster a community of knowledgeable citizens to champion wetland protection and restoration.


Call of the Wetland Story Map

Call of the Wetland Participant Update: Program Reporting

Call of the Wetland Website

Amphibians at Risk: An analysis of wetland habitat and corridors needed to secure amphibian populations in Calgary

Amphibians At Risk In Calgary: Infographic

Organization

This project was undertaken by

Miistakis Institute

City of Calgary

Calgary Zoo

Alberta Conservation Association

Status

Completed in

2020

Supporters

Enbridge

Parks Foundation Calgary

The Calgary Foundation

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

Alberta Innovates

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

Bow River Basin Council

Mount Royal University

Mount Royal University, Institute of Environmental Sustainability

STAR EcoWorks

World Wildlife Fund Canada

Urban Wildlife Monitoring

 

Urban Wildlife Monitoring

A citizen science monitoring project to understand how wildlife responds to the urban environment, and to engage Calgarians in urban wildlife awareness

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities learn about their urban wildlife populations while engaging residents in wildlife awareness?

The Project

Calgary Captured is a multi-year urban wildlife monitoring program that was launched in 2017 focused on medium to large mammals. Through citizen science, the program involved Calgarians in biodiversity monitoring through the classification of camera-trap images to species. The objectives of the program are to build a dataset of species presence in Calgary, engage Calgarians in urban wildlife awareness, and to improve our understanding of how wildlife responds to the urban environment.


Calgary Captured Year One Analysis: Technical Report

Calgary Captured Year Results

Calgary Captured Year One Results: Maps

I’m A Calgarian


(example of one of six wildlife awareness cards produced)

Calgary Captured Information Card


(example of one of five Calgary Captured awareness cards produced)

City of Calgary: Wildlife Camera Monitoring

 

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The City of Calgary

The Miistakis Institute

Alberta Environment and Parks

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society

Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society

Status

Began in 2017 and is

On-going

Supporters

The Calgary Foundation

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

Urban Wetland Connectivity

 

Urban Wetland Connectivity

A project to help maintain amphibian diversity and increase amphibian abundance in the urban environment

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities support urban amphibian populations?

The Project

The goal of this project was to provide information to The City of Calgary to help maintain amphibian diversity and increase amphibian abundance in the urban environment. Three amphibian species, wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata) and tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium) currently make Calgary their home. Key concerns for amphibians in Calgary are the impacts of wetland loss, wetland degradation, and fragmentation of the wetland network. We sought to understand which wetlands support amphibians and where amphibians are moving between wetlands in Calgary.

The modelling products include habitat suitability indices, connectivity models, and centrality and barrier maps designed to inform planning, management and restoration of the wetland network to support amphibians in Calgary. For this project, natural wetlands, modified wetlands and stormwater ponds were all included in modelling and are referred to in this report generically as wetlands.


Amphibians at Risk: An analysis of wetland habitat and corridors needed to secure amphibian populations in Calgary

Amphibians At Risk In Calgary: Infographic

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

The City of Calgary

The Calgary Zoo

The University of Saskatchewan

Status

Completed in

July 2020

Supporters

Alberta Innovates

Urban Ecoroofs

 

Urban Ecoroofs

Exploring the impacts ecoroofs may have on climate change resilience in Alberta municipalities

The Issue / Idea

What impacts can ecoroofs have on climate change resilience in Alberta municipalities?

The Project

As cities develop, vegetation is typically replaced with non-permeable, non-vegetated surfaces. Ecoroofs are one way to provide some of the lost ecosystem services in urban centres including improved stormwater management (both quantity and quality), better regulation of building temperatures, reduced urban heat island effects, improved air quality, and increased urban wildlife habitat and biodiversity (Oberndorfer et al., 2007). Some jurisdictions refer to ecoroofs as a ‘no-regrets’ climate adaptation measure (Mees, Driessen, Runhaar, & Stamatelos, 2013) because they serve multiple societal goals.

Between 2017 and 2019, the Miistakis Institute partnered with the City of Edmonton, Environmental Strategies team to explore the impacts ecoroofs may have on climate change resilience in the city.


Ecoroof Guide for Municipalities

Ecoroof Fact Sheet

Edmonton Ecoroof Initiative for Climate Change Resiliency: Ecoroof Function Research

Jurisdictional Review

Edmonton Ecoroof Case Studies

Edmonton Ecoroof Website

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

City of Edmonton, Environmental Strategies

Status

This project was

 completed in 2019

Supporters

City of Edmonton

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

Edmonton Community Foundation

Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Ecological Values Mapping

 

Ecological Values Mapping

Providing a visual representation of a municipality’s collective community and conservation values

The Issue / Idea

How does a community accurately map and communicate its most important values?

The Project

In 2007, concerned over mounting development pressure and threats to the landscape and traditional lifestyle of the region, the MD Ranchland approached the Miistakis Institute to help them identify community and conservation values that are important to the MD, and then to map these values as accurately as possible.

Through an open and inclusive process, Miistakis worked with the MD staff, council and residents to identify these values and then express them in a spatial/GIS context. The same methodology could easily be applied to different municipalities, and would be expected to result in the identification of different values.


MD Ranchland – Community & Conservation Values Mapping Project – Phase III Report

One Pager and Previous Phases


Community and Conservation Values Mapping
Phase I: Municipal District of Ranchland Data Scoping Project – Summary of Findings
Phase II: Municipal District of Ranchland Data Scoping Project – Summary of Findings

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Phase I – data scoping completed in 2007; phase II – mapping tool and user guide completed in 2009; Phase III – enhanced mapping and communication support report completed in 2011

2011

Supporters

Municipal District of Ranchland

Alberta Municipal Affairs’ Municipal Sustainability Program